In my role as a performance consultant, I often hear employers vent about the interview blunders of job applicants. Based on their feedback to me I’ve turned these problems into solutions for you. Executing the strategies below will take your game to the next level and position you to present the best version of yourself to potential employers.
Study Up: Study up on the company you’re interviewing at and the background of the people you are interviewing with. Let the internet be your tutor; Google the company, Google the people. Go to the organization’s website and commit their mission statement to memory. Then be able to articulate how that relates to your personal values. Have an articulate answer to often asked question? Why are you interested in working for our company?
Gas Up: Fill your gas tank a day or two before your interview. The last thing you want on your way to the interview is to have to pump gas in your dress clothes because you didn’t realize your tank was on empty. Then you run the risk of spilling fuel on yourself or simply smelling like gasoline.
Drive Up: If it is local” take a couple ?test drives? of the route to the interview. In order to determine the proper departure time for interview day time the trip door to door adding in time for additional traffic. If it isn?t a local interview print out online directions and an alternate route or invest in a GPS. Traveling the route in advance will also serve to create a sense of control and familiarity on the big day by removing two unknowns from the event: directions and time.
Print Up: I realize your interviewer should already have your resume on file but you should bring additional copies of your resume and reference list. You may need to share these with other interviewers during your visit. Additionally, it shows them you come prepared and pay attention to details.
Rest Up: Get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview. Sleep experts will tell you the typical adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep nightly to function at optimal performance.
Get Up: Get up early, exercise to get the endorphins flowing and decide it is going to be a great day. Double check your alarm clock has backup batteries and is set correctly.
Power Up: Eat a healthy meal before the interview. Research shows there is a mood and food link. Putting nutritious food in your tank will put you in a better mood and fuel better performance. Skip the double latte, reach for juice or water instead. You’ll be anxious enough on interview day; don’t add to it with caffeine.
Dress Up: Dress in conservative, professional business attire and if your budget allows have your outfit dry-cleaned. Remember a smile is part of dressing up and it is the least expensive and best part of your wardrobe. The job interview is a “no cologne zone“. Not even a little bit because your subtle could be someone else’s offensive.
Hang Up: Turn off your cell phone before heading into the interview. Better yet, leave it in the car. While this may seem like I’m restating the obvious many of my clients have commented to me that candidates’ cell phones often ring in the middle of interviews. If you’re fused at the hip with your phone and insist on bringing it double check that it is off and on lock down in your briefcase.
Wind Up: Your watch, that is. In other words be on time. Being early is on time on time is late and late will not get you hired. Arriving ten to fifteen minutes in advance of your appointment time is a good guideline.
Show Up: Research indicates lasting first impressions are formed in the first five to seven seconds. What kind of first impression are you making with how your show up? Are you catching their eye in a positive or a negative way (Checklist: Smile, firm handshake, articulate greeting by name, eye contact)?
Write Up: Nothing says unprepared quite like a candidate asking to borrow a pen to take notes. You’d also be surprised how few people bring a notepad to their interview. Taking notes is part of managing second impressions. While it may seem like a little thing, little things make a big difference. Taking notes indicates to the interview that they have your undivided attention. It also allows you to jot down important things to follow up on after the interview and shows you’re a prepared detail-oriented worker.
Straight Up: When standing, stand up straight. When seated sit up straight. When doing either one be sure to look up straight. Good posture and eye contact are two keys to effective communication. Slouching and looking down indicate a lack of confidence.
Follow Up: Prompt professional follow up to any questions left unanswered or additional information requested by the interviewer is a must. Think of this as the final impression you get to make before their decision is rendered. A follow up thank you letter should go in the mail that night. Why the same day service? Details of the interview are still fresh in your head and more importantly prompt follow up demonstrates a high degree of professionalism and shows you want the job. Why snail mail? Email is impersonal and a clear concise typed or handwritten letter is going the extra mile with a personal touch. If all the other candidates sent the interviewer a follow up email and you sent a personal letter you will elevate and separate yourself from the pack.
If you successfully do these things you will greatly increase your chances of getting them to “offer up” (the position to you). Be your best and best of luck!